Monday, June 19, 2017

Meatless Monday: The Importance of Eating in Season

When you walk down the supermarket aisles today it is difficult to tell what is in season unless you read the fine print indicating the produce’s place of origin. With the advent of produce from Chile you can buy blueberries and raspberries at Christmas; they won’t taste quite the same as New England berries in July, but you can buy them. 

My friend Polly recently reminded me how great a treat food it was to enjoy local, seasonal food when we were young. Her birthday coincided with the peak time for two of her favorite foods, asparagus and strawberries. Her mom always prepared them for her to mark her special day, and those dinners remain among Polly’s fondest memories.

The peak asparagus season is over now (those thin stalks in the supermarket now come from Peru!), but if you check out this Harvest Calendar for Connecticut, you will see that strawberries, rhubarb, peas, and spinach are among the crops that are now coming into high season.

With our president pulling us out of the Paris Agreement, the burden falls on each of us to do whatever we can to achieve and surpass the commitments of the treaty that President Obama signed in 2016.

The US is the number two producer of CO2 emissions. Local produce travels a shorter distance to get to us. When we support our local farmers, we are creating a smaller carbon footprint. 

The US also produces a significant amount of methane, another greenhouse gas. According to the EPA, agriculture accounted for 10% of the greenhouse gas emissions in the US in 2015, much of it coming from livestock. If enough of us cut back on the meat we eat, methane production will be reduced. Cutting back on meat consumption by observing Meatless Monday is a step in the right direction.

Americans sprang into action on the homefront during WWII: starting Victory gardens, salvaging scrap metal, and giving up some of their favorite foods so the troops would not go hungry. Their efforts made a difference in the outcome of the war.

We can make a difference, too.

When you do your weekend shopping find something in season. Search for a recipe if you don’t know how to prepare it. Or simply plan to make a Meatless Monday salad like this one. Grab a head of local lettuce or a bunch of spinach instead of one of those ubiquitous boxes.You will notice the delicious difference.

On Mondays I often blog on food, food issues, or gardening in support of Meatless Monday, one of several programs developed in the Healthy Monday project, founded in 2003 in association with Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Syracuse University’s Newhouse School of Communications. Meatless Monday’s goal is “to help reduce meat consumption 15% in order to improve personal health and the health of our planet.”